Memorial candle (illustration)
Memorial candle (illustration)Thinkstock

Mike Harari, one of the most distinguished leaders of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, passed away on Sunday at the ripe age of 87 at his home in the Tel Aviv neighborhood Afeka, leaving behind a wife and two children.

Harari achieved near-mythological status for his role as the commander of the Mossad special ops espionage unit Caesarea, and later founded the Kidon unit to assassinate the enemies of Israel.

In April 1973, Harari was part of Operation Spring of Youth, in which his men and commando units stealthily penetrated Lebanon and assassinated three of the most senior Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) terrorists.

Among his stunning feats of espionage Harari can claim the assassination of Ali Hassan Salameh, one of the heads of the Black September group that murdered 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics. That massacre sparked Operation Wrath of G-d, of which Operation Spring of Youth was part.

Harari retired from the Mossad in 1980 after receiving an offer to work in the private market as CEO of a security group. Afterwards he provide security council to then-ruler of Panama Manuel Noriega.

In 2007 former Mossad head Meir Dagan called Harari up for special reserve service, bringing him back into operational duty and granting him a citation at the conclusion of the top secret project he was involved in.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon eulogized Harari, saying he was "one of that rare breed of the builders of the country, who from the time of their youth enlisted to fight for its foundation, and after that goal was achieved continued to contribute greatly to fortifying its security."

"Most of Mike Harari's actions for the security of the state of Israel as a fighter and commander in the Mossad were not made known and will never be made known to the world," noted Ya'alon.

The defense minister added "but whoever merited to know him knew he was a rare pioneer and man of action, of courageous heart and great strength and creativity, whose influence on the Mossad and on generations of fighters is discernible in our days and will remain for many years."